Philly, you just keep on surprising me. Just when I thought I had heard about all the funky yet beautiful spaces that are owned by the most cool and interesting people, you did it once again.
Meet Gibbs Connors, and welcome to his workshop. Down a dead-end alley, somewhere in South Philly, you can find Gibbs’s signage studio, where he has been running his signing business for near 26 years now. He first started painting signs back in 1986 in upstate New York. He would work for small businesses here and there, lettering trucks and other necessary surfaces. When he made the move to Philly, he purchased a space which was once an old auto-repair shop, gutted it, and transformed it into a two-story workshop. Upstairs is naturally lit with high ceilings, tools and paint everywhere you turn, and of course…signs. Gibbs has worked all over Philadelphia, with clientele from the likes of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Barnes Foundation, Starr Restaurants and La Colombe to name a few. One of his most proud works has been the signage on the front of Kermit’s Bake shop on the corner of 22nd and Washington Ave in Philadelphia.
He doesn’t just stay in Philly, though. Below is a mural that was hand painted by Gibb’ at a Starbucks inside LAX.
Now, you know, I did say his workshop was two stories…
Gibbs’s younger days of lettering trucks didn’t necessarily stop, but migrated to another type of vehicle: the classic Volkswagen Bus. He doesn’t just put signage on these vehicles though…he collects them.
Walk down the stairs of this wondrous workshop, and behold his large collection of vintage Volkswagens. You’ll find mostly buses, but there might be a punch buggy or two hidden in there somewhere…maybe even a vintage Porsche. Each one has a special story that Gibbs can tell you, from where he found it, how old it is, to what he’s done with it. You guys, this man has a COLLECTION. I was in awe walking around down there.
Spending the morning with Gibbs and finding out about his life was inspiring and eye opening. This man has pretty much worked for himself his entire life, and he’s got a great gig going on right now.
“I painted signs and hustled to make it where I am today.”
And with that, take a look inside Gibb’s studio…
Thank you for opening the door for us, Gibbs!
Follow FP Jana on Twitter.